I read The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, or as it’s more commonly known Doctor Faustus, because of a school project. It’s a project focusing on the english renaissance and reformation, as well as Henry VIII’s break with the catholic church. The reason why Doctor Faustus was chosen was because it deals heavily with religious themes, so it is meant as a way to study how Henry VIII’s break with catholics can be seen in the art of the time. The edition of the play that i own is the norton critical edition since it has sources and contexts as well as both early and modern critics of the play.
Doctor Faustus is a tragical play, written by Christopher Marlowe, and first performed in 1592. This was a time of a high level of religious conflict in England, with Henry VII’s break with the catholic church, as well as Elizabeth I’s consolidation with Protestantism. During the Elizabethan era in english history anti-catholic art was very prominent, and this can be seen in the way, Marlowe tricks the pope into bowing to him.
If we say that we have no sin,
We deceive ourselves, and there’s no truth in us.
Why then belike we must sin,
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
As far as reading Elizabethan plays go I have had a limited experience before now, with only a few Shakespeare plays. Doctor Faustus is written before Shakespeare ever became active in the art of writing plays, and it in many ways follow the set up that was followed in the ancient greek tradition of drama, here among with chorus, which is something Shakespearean plays miss.
Doctor Faustus is compared to many of Shakespeare’s plays easier for the modern person to understand. Don’t get me wrong it is still an Elizabethan tragedy, so it will take quite a lot of brainpower to fully understand and contextualize it, but on many levels it is easier to understand than Shakespeare.
Personally I really liked this play, and i found the way, tha tit portrays religion and the religious conflicts of the time very interesting. I am exceptionally happy that his is the tragedy I’ve chosen to use for my project, and i will hopefully be reading a lot more Elizabethan plays, both Marlowe and others, in the future.
Within the bowels of these elements,
Where we are tortured and remain forever.
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place, for where we are is hell,
And where hell is must we ever be.
And, to conclude, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that is not heaven.